Exmoor Gold Is 30!
The Golden Ale that started a trend and made beer history celebrates its 30th birthday in July with the brewery’s 10,000th brew.
Thirty years ago Exmoor Ales (then called Golden Hill), created a special one-off beer to celebrate its 1000th brew. That beer was Exmoor Gold and it has been brewed ever since, winning many of awards on the way and it has now become the company’s flagship.
In a move that was rare for its time, it only used one variety of malted barley, and as a consequence the beer was bright gold in colour and stood out from the many copper- and bronze-coloured beers that ruled the bar-top.
Nobody at the brewery knew that this gleaming beer was starting a new beer style, Golden Ale, which has since been replicated in hundreds of brew houses up and down the country.
‘Its appeal is that it has always had great drinkability,’ says Exmoor Ales’ Managing Director Jonathan Price. ‘There’s also its golden colour, which in the beginning helped with converting lager drinkers. It has also been known nationally almost since its start and as the well acknowledged first Golden Ale it stands out from the crowd of other golden beers.’
World-renowned beer writer Roger Protz is also a firm fan of the beer, having acknowledged this his best-selling 300 Beers To Try Before You Die!
‘It was the early 1990s and I was editing What’s Brewing,’ he recalls, ‘I was at the printers in Bicester and went for a quick lunch in a pub where I had Exmoor Gold sitting in the garden. I was astounded by its rich aroma and palate — juicy malt, lemon fruit, earthy Fuggles and peppery Goldings. It was wonderfully refreshing and only my extreme professionalism tore me away from the pub and back to the proofs.
‘It was — to use the modern jargon — a game changer, one of a tiny handful of golden ales that attracted younger drinkers away from mass marketed lagers to the delights of ale bursting with rich and pungent hop character. Just about every brewer has a golden ale in their locker, but Exmoor Gold helped revive and boost the cask ale sector and made it attractive to a new generation of drinkers.’
As well as being a firm favourite with beer-lovers, both at home and in the pub, Exmoor Gold has also been a serial award-winner; its latest accolade came in 2015 when it landed top prize in CAMRA’s Southwest Regional Champion Beer of Britain Golden Ale category. This award was particularly sweet as it occurred just as the brewery moved into its new home some 50 yards from its original site where brewing began in 1980.
‘Wiveliscombe has always been an integral part of Exmoor Ales,’ says Price, who bought the brewery in 2006. ‘When we realised that we had to move from our site at the old brewery on the hill, remaining in Wiveliscombe was terribly important, even though shifting to industrial estates in other parts of the county were much cheaper. When the opportunity came four years ago to purchase a good factory site some 50 yards from the brewery, it had to be taken and in 2014 the big step to invest in the new brewery began. Altogether around £1.5m has been invested. It’s wonderful to be associated with the brewing heritage of Wiveliscombe and it’s also great that our 10,000th brew is taking place at the same time as Gold hits 30!’
Even though Exmoor Gold is 30 years old Price reveals that he still has plans for it.
‘Last year we produced a limited edition of a stronger and more hopped Gold in cask for the Wetherspoons beer festival. It was called Exmoor Gold Export Strength and was 5.5% as opposed to the regular 4.5%. It was also late hopped. It was exceptionally well received and this summer it will make its debut at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival. As for the future this brand could also form the test bed for the kegged and canned versions of Gold we are thinking of. Here’s to the next 30 years of Gold!’
For more details contact Jonathan Price at Exmoor Ales on
01984 623798 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, June 13, 2016
Over the years, Exmoor Gold has been lauded by beer writers such as Roger Protz and the late Michael Jackson of Beerhunter fame.
Roger Protz, 300 Beers To Try Before You Die!
‘The beer has a powerful punch of earthy hop resins, lemon fruit, juicy malt and a hint of butterscotch. Hops and fruit burst across the tongue, underscored by sappy malt and butterscotch. The finish lingers, becomes dry and intensely bitter, but juicy malt continues to make its mark on a memorable and refreshing beer.
Michael Jackson, Great Beer Guide
‘The beer is fresh-tasting, firm, creamy, dryish, with a hint of dessert apples.‘
Adrian Tierney-Jones, 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die
‘Enticingly golden in colour. The nose interplays between a fresh bouquet of grassy and floral hop and a subtly soft, fluffy caramel-tinged maltiness. The palate sees more balance between gentle grainy maltiness and sprightly floral, citrusy fresh hop fruitiness. The finish is bittersweet.’
Exmoor Ales started in 1980, during the first wave of small independent breweries. It was originally called Golden Hill, after its hill-top location in Wiveliscombe, and its creation brought brewing back to the town for the first time since the closure of Arnold & Hancock’s in the late 1950s. Almost immediately, Golden Hill made its mark on the beer world when its 13th brew of Exmoor Ale was voted Best Bitter at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival in 1980. Since then countless other brewing awards have come their way. Exmoor Ales are also noted for being the originators of the ‘Golden Ale’ style, with the ever-popular Exmoor Gold, available in cask and in bottle. Other beers produced include the bestseller Ale, the wily easy drinking Fox and the cult strong porter Beast, as well as a variety of seasonal specials.
A selection of Exmoor Ales
Ale (3.8%): Classic bitter the colour of maple syrup. On the nose malt comes to the fore with a hint of citrusy hop in the background; a full, dry palate and a finish which offers more malt and a long lasting bitterness. Excellent on its own or with light meals such as salads, chicken and fish.
Fox (4.2%): Cunningly crafted from a blend of several malts and hops to produce a brunette beer of unusual subtlety and taste. The slight maltiness on the tongue is followed by a burst of hops with a lingering bitter-sweet aftertaste. Just right with fragrant Thai and Chinese dishes.
Gold (4.5%): Soft malty nose with a hint of citrus hop in the background. Well-rounded and refreshing on the palate with a slight sweetness leading to a malty finish accompanied by a touch of toffee and vanilla plus a long aftertaste. Versatile golden ale to accompany any meal!
Stag (5.2%): Strong, copper-coloured premium bitter with resiny hop mingling with grainy, maltiness on the nose. A voluminous malty character stakes its claim on the palate though a well-fined rich fruitiness also comes along for the ride, before a thrilling descent into a long dry finish where a hint of sweetness keeps matters well-mannered. Especially good with roast beef and game.
Beast (6.6%): Complex strong porter making liberal use of chocolate and crystal malts. On the nose espresso, currants and raisins, cocoa and a fiery hint of brandy or rum. More fruit cake, alcohol, coffee beans, chocolate on the palate, all kept in line with a spicy hoppiness, before the complex long aftertaste. Surprisingly thirst quenching with a spicy curry or a traditional steak and also add to rich fruit cake.
Hound Dog (4%): Light and refreshing dark-gold spring beer with a surge of lemon and lime on the nose, a touch of toffee and vanilla on the palate with an exquisite balance of fruity hoppiness and malt on the long finish. Delicious with fish and chips and other traditional bar meals.
Antler (4%): A smooth and warming dark amber beer. Nose of popcorn and soft toffee. Nuts and toffee on the palate spiked by light tropical fruit. Dry grainy/malty finish, typical of Exmoor beers, leaving the taste buds calling out for more.
DARK (4.2%): Dark amber in colour with crimson tints; crisp chocolate-like character in the mouthfeel, moderated by a blackcurrant smooth fruitiness — think a whisper of blackcurrant jam sweetness and a hint of chocolate spread, all kept from an overarching sweetness with dry toast-like and roasty notes. Crisp and dry finish. Roast duck, especially if the skin has been crisped, goes down a treat with a glass of Dark.
Silver Stallion (4.3%): Chestnut-coloured best bitter with a full-bodied palate boasting a hint of blackcurrant; the initial grainy malty finish is followed by a growing bitter finish. Serve with Sunday roast.
Wild Cat (4.4%): Warming amber coloured ale produced for the autumn. The nose has plenty of deep booming earthy hop notes on the nose, while the palate is malty with a touch of autumn berries and a dry finish with more muscular hop thrusting its way. Ideal with pasta and other Italian favourites.
Exmas (5%): Ruby-coloured Christmas beer with a citrus and rich malty nose. The palate is smooth and fruity leading to a smooth finish with spicy and fruit hop notes lingering. A tasty toast to go with the turkey and trimmings.